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India to join Turkmenistan pipeline project, says Deora

Special Correspondent

TAPI pipeline from Dauletabad to Fazilka; Talks on IPI project on April 25

1,680 km pipeline planned from Turkmenistan

U.S. encouraging India and Pakistan to import gas

NEW DELHI: Seeking to work aggressively to secure its aim of energy security, India has decided to formally join the strategic U.S.-backed $3.5 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project this week.

Before leaving for Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Murli Deora told journalists here that the Indian delegation was going to Pakistan to sign the agreement for the TAPI pipeline at the invitation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“The Steering Committee of the TAPI pipeline is meeting in Islamabad on April 23-24. This will witness India formally joining the project,” Mr. Deora said.

Besides signing the Project Heads of Agreement, the four nations would also ink a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement for the pipeline that is sponsored by the ADB.

The U.S., which had opposed the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline, is encouraging India and Pakistan to import gas from Turkmenistan for their growing needs.

The 1,680-km pipeline from Turkmenistan will transport 100 million standard cubic metres per day of gas from the Dauletabad gas field, of which India’s share is likely to be 60 mscmd.

Mr. Deora said that on April 25 he would hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart to resolve the transit fee issue that had been impeding the IPI project progress. “It will be different when the Minister takes up the topic. We expect some resolution,” he said.

The rival TAPI line will run from the Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan. From there it will be constructed alongside the highway running from Herat to Kandahar, and then through Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border with Pakistan.

$3.5 billion project

The pipeline will be 1,420 mm in diameter with a capacity of 33 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas annually. The cost of the project is estimated at $3.5 billion at the 2005 cost level.

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